Make play a learning experience by designAlthough the Nordic countries are far from Korea, they play an important role in the world of Korean art and design. “People often ask what’s so significant about design that originates from the Nordic countries. It is a question that I try to answer through my projects,” says Amie Ann, the artist, curator and project leader of the Sonoann Organization, an arts organization based in Finland. The prolific artist is behind an exhibition of children’s play products called “Children’s Play - Nordic Design Exhibition,” which is now being held at the Korea Foundation Cultural Center.
A native Korean who graduated from the fine arts department at Seoul Women’s University, Ann relocated to Finland 14 years ago. She had decided that a career in the arts in Seoul was somewhat limiting. “I found that I was at a stage where I really couldn’t focus and I needed to get out,” says Ann, who was inspired by one of her Finnish exchange professors at her university to further her studies overseas. While most of her friends selected big cosmopolitan cities like Paris or London, she wanted to go to a location where she could discover more about herself in a quiet place ― and where not many Koreans were living. “When I moved to Finland, I had a lot of projects going on in Helsinki but I picked the countryside to live ― a university city called Jyvaskyla. The area is surrounded by beautiful lakes and is filled with nature and also, many artists live in the area.”
When comparing Finland and Korea, Ann says there still needs to be more freedom and creativity when teaching children the arts here. “In Korea, it is still not so free. Students here often say to me it is difficult to discover their own direction. I am by nature a very free person and enjoy doing things by myself ― so I didn’t conform to the ways here.”
Feeling strongly that she wanted to share her experiences with her fellow Koreans, Ann began this exhibition project two years ago, using her contacts to put together a showcase of Nordic design. She wanted to give the younger generation in Korea a chance to see and feel what Nordic design is about. Although called “Children’s Play,” the exhibition is not just about children’s products but is also a showcase for design ideas, concepts and products. “I want to share with the audience the process of design. In addition, we also want to show that children should be able to develop their minds through the act of playing. We had a hard time translating the title of the exhibition into Korean - we felt that the true meaning was lost a bit.” The main point for Ms. Ann in this exhibition is to deliver the message that “children should build their own individuality by themselves in a free environment,” she said. “In Nordic countries, art education encourages children’s aesthetic sensitivity and the skill of observation. Also, attention has to be paid to the environment, architecture and interior design.”
The exhibition runs until Nov. 30. The opening was attended by the ambassadors of Sweden, Finland and Norway.
The Korea Foundation Cultural Center is located on the 1st floor of the JoongAng Ilbo Building.
by Irene Lam